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Thread: The US-Kuwaiti Strategic Relationship

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    Default The US-Kuwaiti Strategic Relationship

    SSI, 14 Sep 07: Kuwaiti National Security and the U.S.-Kuwaiti Strategic Relationship after Saddam
    ....despite an enormous sense of relief, Kuwait’s national security problems have not disappeared with Saddam’s removal and death on the gallows. Rather, the end of his dictatorship has created new and extremely serious national security challenges for Kuwait. Iran has viewed Saddam’s replacement with a weak and divided Iraqi government as an opportunity to expand its political influence throughout the Gulf in ways that are potentially threatening to Kuwait. Moreover, a variety of alternative Iraqi political futures concern Kuwait, and whatever future Iraq eventually finds will occur only after a prolonged period of instability and violence that could well involve Kuwait. Additionally, Kuwaitis are concerned about an expansion of terrorism in the Gulf due to increased regional sectarianism and radicalism that may emerge as a by-product of Iraqi factional and intercommunal warfare. All of these problems are of special concern to the United States as well, and addressing them effectively is vital to both nations.

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    WINEP, 7 Nov 07: Kuwait: Keystone of US Gulf Policy
    ...In terms of U.S. land-based access to Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have each bowed out of the picture for internal political reasons, and the overland route from Jordan through Anbar Province is both very long and very insecure. The other two neighbors, Iran and Syria, are unfriendly. Kuwait thus provides an essential corridor to the central portions of Iraq, which has lately been a quiet but crucial element in U.S. policy planning for the region. In other words, in the uncharacteristically blunt language of a July 2007 paper from the Department of State: “Kuwait provides indispensable support in terms of access to its facilities, resources, and land to support military operations in Iraq.” Its major ports and airfields are in constant use by U.S. forces and contractors....

    ....In addition, small and vulnerable as it may be, Kuwait remains (in Anthony Cordesman’s phrase) “of major strategic importance as an oil power.” It boasts approximately 10 percent of the entire planet’s proven reserves, and its daily production of nearly 2.5 million barrels is both larger and more reliable than that of Iraq. This was the prize for which the U.S. first went to war against Saddam, a war in which Kuwait served as the first line of defense for Saudi Arabia as well. Yet Kuwait has a native population not even one-tenth that of Saudi Arabia. Kuwaitis number barely one-twentieth of Iraq’s population, and, with just 15,000 men under arms, barely one-tenth the armed forces even of Iraq’s current fledgling regime. The comparison with Iran is even starker; Iranians outnumber Kuwaitis by something like seventy to one.

    The main issue now is thus not what Kuwait can do for Iraq, or against Iran, but how to keep Kuwait from being somehow engulfed in the turmoil and violence of its much larger northern neighbor—or in the regional ambitions of its even larger Iranian neighbor just across the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf. As long as it is protected, Kuwait is an irreplaceable land bridge to Iraq and a key contributor both to global energy supplies and to the international “recycling” of petrodollars.
    Complete 49 page paper at the link.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default How deep is the relationship?

    Having liberated Kuwait in the First Gulf War - creating a debt akin to liberating France and then using Kuwait as a base for the Second Gulf War, how do Kuwaiti's regard their partners / liberators now? The royal family and those in power no doubt have their opinions.

    I recall the grand dinner after the First Gulf War, in London, with a strong Kuwaiti presence, that has occassionaly featured since when one notices the announcements.

    Any comments?

    davidbfpo

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    The thought of a benign King appreciative of the West is more appealing than the thought of self-centered plebeians running amok in that neck of the woods with notions of one voice and vote for each man - it would taint the flow of oil with blood and affords me no comfort

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    CEIP, 27 May 08: Kuwait’s 2008 Parliamentary Elections: A Setback for Democratic Islamism?
    ....The United States not only sees its influence at low ebb in the region but it has also clearly indicated a profound lack of interest in Kuwaiti democracy. Oddly enough, the U.S. administration most aggressive in its democratization rhetoric and most interested in furthering political reform has thoroughly disengaged from Kuwaiti politics (with a brief upsurge of interest only about the granting of the franchise to women). Kuwaiti voters anxious for international protection for their democratic experiment may rue the headlines in the international press that followed the 2008 elections—with foreign press coverage focusing on the triumph of Islamists and the failure of women to win a single seat, the resulting parliament is a less attractive hero in its battles with what remains a monarchical system.....

    ....Kuwait’s HADAS has managed in less than two decades to emerge as the Arab Islamist party most thoroughly integrated as a normal political actor. Its leaders are frustrated because they feel that in a sense they have become more democratic than the political system in which they operate—and perhaps more than Kuwaiti society is ready for. Kuwaiti democracy is indeed faltering—not because the Islamists are challenging it but because they have not yet found a formula for deepening it.

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